The current crisis of COVID-19 has sent many pastors thinking about how to keep their church functional and stable through this time. Each church was at a different place before this crisis hit. Some of the churches in the SBC of Virginia were pursuing revitalization. For many, it may appear that any attempt to move a church through a process of revitalization is not possible at this time. However, several churches in Virginia are using this moment to continue to galvanize their church toward revitalization. One pastor who is doing this is Philip King at Calvary Baptist Church in Winchester, Virginia.
Two major components of many revitalization efforts are ministry and mobilization to the surrounding community and the leveraging of digital technology. This crisis has allowed Calvary Baptist Church to see their community with fresh eyes and understand the importance of digital platforms in a world of social distancing. Philip King says, “By the grace of God, in the middle of this pandemic our efforts to make some beneficial changes have been propelled forward. Really, by necessity, we’ve had to make these moves to continue to function and stay relevant, and the church has been supportive.” Calvary Baptist Church has been able to upgrade their digital presence because this crisis has put added attention to this important area. King believes that the enhancements of digital technology would not have moved at this pace outside of this crisis. The quick adoption of upgrading the website, enhancing video streaming and embracing online giving has been virtually automatic. Outside of this crisis, this would have been a much longer process.
Calvary Baptist Church has been able to communicate to the community of Winchester their desire to minister to them. Through drive-through prayer, drive-in church, and organizing community-wide prayer gatherings at the Winchester Medical Center the church has been leading in ministry to their community. King says, “The Lord has offered us an opportunity and reminder to truly be the church and to understand that the church is not the facility, but the people of God coming together to minister to one another and the community.” While there was a desire within the church to minister, this crisis has given a fresh enthusiasm to reach out and minister in the Winchester community.
Rusty Small is revitalization strategist for the SBC of Virginia.